A Social Media Confession

Last night, my phone died.

I was minding my own business, checking my tweets, when the screen suddenly went black.  It’s now stuck in “recovery mode”, and every time I try to restore it, it gets frozen at the exact same point in the process–the Apple logo and blank loading bar.  So close, yet so far.

I panicked.  All those photos, all those voicemails, all those texts I wanted so desperately to save.  My hand kept twitching to pick it up and check my Facebook, to tweet about how mad I was that my phone wasn’t working, and the next open Genius Bar appointment wasn’t until the next afternoon!  What was I going to do until then?!

I realized I have a very serious problem.  I’m addicted to social media.  And my phone.  But mostly social media.  Realizing this has disenchanted me a bit to the love affair that we’ve shared together over the past six years (longer if we lump in the whole online journal fad).  Here are four things I’ve been considering lately:

Social media leads us to believe incomplete pictures.  The members of my generation have become experts at self-marketing.  We’re pros at taking flattering photos of ourselves, of crafting interesting or funny status updates, of compiling a profile that reflects only what we want others to see.  Of course, I experience the bad along with the good in my own life everyday…same as everyone else, but I can’t help but believe the perfect picture that some of my friends paint of their lives.  It falsely leads me to believe that I’m the only one having a hard time.  I have had thoughts that went a little like this: “Gosh, she’s so funny/pretty/adventurous, and I am such a fraud.”  Guess what?  She’s not perfect.  And I can be funny/pretty/adventurous, too.  I am not a fraud.  I am a real person, and so is she.

Social media can be very harsh reminders of everything that I’m not.  Twitter reminds me how unproductive I’m being as everyone tweets about all the great and interesting blog content they’re churning out everyday (which I genuinely enjoy reading, by the way).  Facebook reminds me how single I am, as there seems to be a daily onslaught of engagement and wedding photos.  LinkedIn, of course, simply reminds me how underemployed I am as I see friends update their profiles to broadcast their new, impressive job titles.  Some days social media just mocks me in this way.  It’s rude.  And I just let it happen.

Social media encourages surface relationships.  I’ve extolled the virtues of Facebook and Twitter for the ability to stay in contact with old friends and meet new people.  But I have to be conscious about the types of relationships these really are.  After a semester in Oregon where I had no cell phone and very limited internet, I learned how to be intentional about choosing and subsequently pouring into relationships.  Somehow, when your only source of contact with the outside world is handwritten letters, you realize just who is willing to invest that time for you and for whom you are willing to do the same.  Sure, you have fewer friends, but those friendships are deeper and mean more.  Facebook is the anti-Oregon.  It allows me to keep in touch with everyone, but only on the surface level.  I’m tired just thinking about it.  Letters are so much more fun than a wall post anyway.

Social media is a total time-suck.  Seriously, I waste so much of my time on Facebook and Twitter.  What would I do if I allocated the time I spend on those websites to something else, like reading or writing or running or cooking (ha, I know, me cooking…what a joke).  How about finally filling out that grad school application?  How about finally taking that yoga class that I got as a Living Social deal months ago?  How about investing in serious, in-person relationships?  How much will I really be missing in my online world?

So this is me saying goodbye to social media, at least for a little while.  Sayonara, Klout score!  Ah, how long I’ve obsessed over you and how little sense you make.  I’m beginning my own social experiment.  It’s going to be hard.  I have already witnessed or thought of at least 10 things that have my fingers itching for Twitter.  But I’ll still have e-mail, I’ll still have texts and calls, provided I get my phone fixed ASAP, I’ll still have snail mail.  So, go ahead and use one of those.

What are your reasons for using or not using social media?

Have you been able to police the amount of time you use on social media sites?  How have you accomplished that?

Side note:
It took me hours to bring myself to publish this post because I
just
wasn’t
ready
to give it all up yet.

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